Wednesday, April 24, 2013
#193 Sammy Taylor
I like digging into some of these player bios when I can. You never know what you'll find when you go down some rabbit hole that presents itself through a cardback. Take Sammy Taylor for example. He played a year at the age of 17 (1950) with an independent club in North Carolina and then the next line of type reads "Did Not Report". What? What kid gets a chance to play baseball for pay and then 'does not report'?
Well actually there are a few scenarios I could see. Maybe he was working elsewhere and needed to make steady money. Maybe his folks disapproved of baseball, or one of them was ill. Maybe he was planning to go into the service very soon, after-all he served the next four years in the employ of Uncle Sam. Maybe, and the romantic in me wants this to be true, he had a girl he just couldn't bear to leave. Sadly I dug about 10 Google pages deep and couldn't find anything to explain Sammy Taylor's reluctance to begin a career on the diamond.
But begin (or actually resume) his career he did in 1956 in the Milwaukee Braves system. After two years he was dealt to the Cubs and debuted in Chicago in 1958. In his four years with the Cubs he was a platoon catcher for the most part but he did get more than 300 at bats his first two seasons. His best year was 1959 when he hit .269 with 13 homers.
He was traded early in the 1962 season to the Mets and then in 1963 he split the year with three clubs, Mets, Indians and Reds. He retired after that season.
Taylor was involved in one of the strangest plays in baseball history, one that ended up with two balls 'in play'. Rather than recount it here check out this link to a Cub fan page for the details. Cool story, bro.
One thing I came across when searching Taylor's story is the fact that in that when he was playing in that independent league in 1950 one of his teammates was a guy named Cliff Bolton. Now Bolton at that point was 43 years old having began his days as a player in 1927 at the age of 20. He played all or part of 7 major league seasons, mostly with the Senators. After his last big league game in 1941 he returned to the minors and played through 1952 at the age of 45! And he hit .344 in 27 games that year.
Getting back to Sammy Taylor... nothing says '1959 baseball card' like a catcher posed squatting along the track without any equipment other than his glove. The red railings mean Seals Stadium in San Francisco.